Education International
Education International

Child labour in Central Asia is a growing concern

published 13 October 2009 updated 13 October 2009

Education International and its member organisations around the world are committed to eradicating child labour wherever it occurs.

As part of its ongoing programme in Central Asia, EI works with local teacher unions to promote the rights and status of teachers and their unions, where the eradication of child labour constitutes an important component of this programme.

Poverty is a new phenomenon in the region, which began with the economic decline preceding the collapse of the Soviet Union. Currently, more than forty percent of Central Asians live below the poverty line, in Tajikistan it is more than eighty percent. Apart from cultural norms, poverty is the root of child labour.

As the first step towards the eradication of child labour, raising awareness among local unions and communities is of vital importance. At the recent 6th EI Asia-Pacific Regional Conference which took place in Bangkok from 28-30 September, EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen urged the union leaders to be pro-active in promoting democracy and social justice in their region. He pointed to countries in Central Asia where, during the harvest season, teachers are forced to send children into the cotton fields.

As part of its efforts to eradicate child labour, EI member organisation in the US, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is joining efforts with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) to campaign against forcing children and teachers to harvest cotton in Uzbekistan.

In support of the colleagues and children in Uzbekistan, AFT members have created a cotton quilt to be presented to the Uzbekistani ambassador this week.

To find out more about the AFT's campaign and EI's work on the eradication of child labour, please visit the links below.